When asked what she remembered about the day her life changed forever, Cristiana has only one answer – “rainy”.

It was a February afternoon in Stamford Hill, Hackney, just one month after moving to the UK from Romania, when she stepped out into the road on her way to work.

Seconds later Cristiana was on the ground, stuck under a dumper truck that had run her over.

When London’s Air Ambulance advanced trauma team arrived at the scene, she was barely alive.

Cristiana was extremely pale and had an unrecordable blood pressure.

Her left lower leg had been crushed and de-gloved and there was bleeding inside her abdomen. Cristiana had also suffered life-threatening pelvic fractures.

Medics immediately sedated Cristiana and started a blood transfusion, before giving her general anaesthetic and connecting her to a breathing machine.

She was then rushed to the nearest major trauma centre where she underwent multiple surgeries.

Cristiana remained in hospital in a coma for two and a half months, with her mother, who travelled to London from Romania after hearing about her daughter’s accident, by her side.

She said: “I don’t remember a specific moment when I woke up – I woke up step by step. But I remember knowing my mum was there.”

When she did wake up, Cristiana remembers looking down at the bed and realising that one of her legs “was a lot shorter than the other”.

Her mum explained that surgeons had been forced to amputate part of her leg to save her life.

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Cristiana said: “It was awful. I cried all day and the clinicians had to give me sedation to calm me down. I was so nervous and couldn’t stop crying.

“I don’t think I fully understood the situation at the time.”

She remained in hospital until September when she was finally discharged and able to return home to Romania.

Until 2020, Cristiana used a wheelchair to get around. She then tried a prosthetic which has enabled her to walk again. She added: “I walk everyday now! I love it!”

Cristiana, who recently graduated from college with a diploma in accounting, also enjoys playing wheelchair basketball.

Ilford Recorder: Cristiana enjoys playing basketballCristiana enjoys playing basketball (Image: London's Air Ambulance)

She said: “Sometimes some people still look at me a little strangely because I am a little bit different to them.

“But in the basketball team we all have differences, so it feels like home, like a community. I understand them and they understand me.”

Cristiana praised London’s Air Ambulance for the work it did in saving her life.

She told the charity: “I didn’t know you were a charity until after my accident. I can’t believe it – you help so many people.”

London’s Air Ambulance relies on public support for 96% of its funding, and needs more if it is to continue saving lives.

Summing up her journey, Cristiana said: “It has been a long and hard road. It was very mentally tough to come to terms with what had happened and there were a few breakdowns along the way.

“But now, I feel so good. I have accepted myself.”